Just a few weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump spoke at an evangelical conference alongside numerous anti-LGBTQ figures, Vice President Mike Pence is speaking at a 40th anniversary celebration for Focus on the Family (FOTF), an anti-LGBTQ organization that considers same-sex attraction “unnatural,” endorses ex-gay therapy and says that homosexuality has “negative physical and psychological health effects” and makes one more likely to sexually assault another person or molest children (which is a total lie).
Pence will be speaking to the group right before the last weekend of pride month, a month recognizing the LGBTQ community that Trump decided to leave un-commemorated.
Focus on the Family was founded in 1977 by Dr. James Dobson, a psychologist-turned-radio broadcaster. In 1981, Dobson also founded the Family Research Council (FRC), an anti-LGBTQ hate group that believes that gay people caused the Holocaust, that homosexuals want to legalize child rape and that Washington D.C. is run by gay witches.
Dobson himself has said that gay rights will destroy Christianity and America. While he stopped leading the FRC in 1992 and FOTF in 2003, he has remained an active voice on radio.
Pence’s involvement with FOTF isn’t surprising considering that 81% of evangelical voters voted for Trump (voters which are more likely to agree with FOTF’s anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ stances). Furthermore, Pence has long voted against same-sex marriage and expanding LGBTQ civil rights; he may also support conversion therapy.
Pence’s visit also continues a trend in the Trump administration of throwing red meat to religious conservatives. In early May, Trump signed an executive order on “religious freedom,” instructing the Internal Revenue Service (the IRS) not to revoke the tax-exemption status of churches that get involved in politics, something known as as “the Johnson Amendment.” Trump’s instruction was mostly meaningless however as the IRS has never taken this action against any churches.
FOTF and the FRC have both also opposed trans access to public accommodations such as bathrooms. While Trump initially said that he believed trans people should be able to use whichever bathroom they feel most comfortable using, he has since said that the matter should be left up to individual states. Trump also signed an executive order revoking protections put in place by former President Barack Obama for transgender students to use public school bathrooms matching their gender identity.